Do you find yourself constantly looking for that elusive pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? When I was young, it felt as if I was constantly yearning for my lucky break—when I was it going to be my turn. That quickly faded, and I realized that sitting around waiting would get me nowhere.
Growing up, I was faced with many “forks in the road” if you will, where whichever decision prevailed, would affect the rest of my life. Some of these were just minor detours, where others, significantly changed the direction of my future. Knowing what you value most in life can aid in creating a path that only leads to success.
A story that you may have heard me mention before, emphasizes my belief that you create your own luck. By knowing what you want, helps you focus on how to get it. At one of my first jobs, it was considered an honor to be invited out to coffee with a group of what seemed like the “cool-kids.” One day, I was invited, and I saw one of my co-workers—and #1 sales guy in the company—sitting at his desk. I asked why he wasn’t joining us, and he simply responded “Why would I waste my prime hours sitting around being unproductive?” Bam! It was the epitome of a “no-duh” statement that resonated with me the rest of my career. What on earth would I gain by sitting around a coffee shop discussing with cohorts our dissatisfaction and longing for a better pay day?
I truly believe people make their own luck. You constantly hear people whining about how lucky someone is, when in reality, if they spent as much time towards their goals as they do whining about not attaining them, they would be “lucky” as well. People tell me all the time how lucky I was to experience the success in business that I have; but really, I just knew what I wanted and worked hard to get it. The lucky ones, are usually the hard working ones.
Sometimes it seems like some people get all the breaks. There are those who get where they are by standing on the shoulders of giants; but if taking advantage of people is what you value, the type of people you surround yourself with, probably wouldn’t hesitate to do the same to you. Luck seems fleeting when you don’t learn the lessons, and gain the knowledge from working hard for it. The path to success is never a strait road; but you’ll never get anywhere by sitting on the side trying to hitchhike a ride.
Every time someone tells me how lucky I am, I say “Why yes, yes I am. I am lucky to have a good head on my shoulders and the love and support of the people around me.”
Day by day, the news emphasizes the weight of what the people of Northern Africa are accomplishing. Granted, Libya is not going quite as smoothly as Egypt, yet they are demanding change none the less. It really puts things in perspective when you look at our relatively easy lives when all things are accounted for. While we may be dodging hypothetical bullets, people every day are dodging real ones—praying to make it to see tomorrow.
So again, allow me to reiterate: We are going to take the core foundation of these revolutions and apply them to our own lives. As the great Mother Teresa once said, “Do not wait for leaders! You do it, person to person.”
With the onset of another revolution from the technical side, communicating to one another has become effortless. However, it seems to have become a catch 22. While we maintain contact daily, when was the last time to spoke to that someone face-to-face? We have allowed ourselves to be viewed as “usernames” rather than people—especially among our work environment.
In today’s competitive atmosphere, the ability to communicate your ideas is essential for success. There will be many times in your life, where you will feel silenced by your alleged superiors due to lack in email response or callback. In the end we are all human—remind them of that. If you feel strongly about something, don’t give up on yourself. Find a way to be heard. Be bold, and find a way to introduce yourself. By attaching a face to the caller or email sender, it will hold much more weight than those digital recordings.
Getting to know your colleagues, partners, or employees is a lost treasure among businesses. I am honored to say that some of my closest friends are people I have met through business; and on the other side, some of my best business deals have been through a connection made in conversation. Today, things are managed over the internet, signed and faxed back. The hand shake—something coveted amongst business cohorts—has become an endangered species. Make a personal habit to introduce yourself, shake someone’s hand and make an impression. That is the only way you will get anywhere in life.
As Mother Teresa and the community of Northern Africa have demonstrated, do not wait on your leaders to change. You need to “be the change you wish to see.”—Ghandi.
With everything that has happened in the last month in Egypt, one can’t help but stop and admire. A nation that had been subjected to suppression of their own government body for over 30 years, found the strength to come together as a community to stand up for their rights. It’s hard to even comprehend.
When you grow up with a set of laws, live by standards that have been engraved since birth, it’s hard to think about ever trying to change. I mean, heck, most people won’t even take the chance of quitting a job they despise to fulfill a life of satisfaction. Yet, one of the most ancient civilizations in our known history, found the courage to change.
What really amazes me is the way the people of Egypt accomplished their goal. There was a group of people who had a vision of a free Egypt; and then realized that there was more with the same vision. For the most part, they were able to have a violent-free protest in Tahrir Square, demanding that the country should belong to the people. They organized a group of civilians to monitor and manage their protestors, and ensure that nothing got out of control. As a result, their infamous President, Hosni Mubarak was forced to step down and give the people what they wanted.
It was pure joy to watch the news channels project images of freedom and happiness among the Egyptian community. There were men, woman, children—all wanting to be a part of the celebration. Again, I find it awe inspiring that a country can break down thousands of years old social barriers , yet there are free people every day who put up with the hand their “dealt”. Why do we allow ourselves to be subjected to an environment, treatment, or a situation, that we so passionately dislike? One of the biggest chances I took—to invest in Century21—turned my life around forever. Yet, I speak with people more often than not, about how they don’t like their current situation. Really what they’re saying is “I’m too afraid to take the chance and make a change.”
The only advice I can give is to stand up for what you want, and take a leap of faith.
Every year, the impending day of overstated love and chocolate ridden profit, Valentines ignites a combination of emotions for many different people. For me, I feel the love and appreciation for my wife. For others, it may be resentment, happiness, longing or apathy that they feel for the 14th day of February. Over the years, it seems that Valentine’s Day has gotten a bad rap as just another Hallmark scheme disguised in cards, flowers, and candy—Oh my! But as I do during most holidays, I look into the initial meaning behind this day—to appreciate the one I love.
The one you love can be anyone, not just the alleged “significant other”. Your valentine can be your parents, a colleague or your best friend. Valentine’s Day is meant for you to show your appreciation for those who have been with you through the bad and the good, the hard and the easy. We should all be so fortunate as to have such strong champions of our potential. The support, encouragement and love of the people in your life are absolutely vital to success in the nth degree.
Valentine’s Day is not the enemy, it is our ally. It grants us the opportunity to be reminded that there are people in our lives whom we cherish, and should not be forgotten. Even if you don’t take the actual day to your advantage, use it as a prompt to cue your display of affection to those people, or person. Even a simple card of understated adoration that says “thank you for being you” can move a person more than you realize. You never want to be presented with the instant that you realize, that the moment to show your love has come and gone. It is a situation I wish for no one. It’s hard to embrace, but eventually you learn to value those who have held your hand along the way.
So let me leave you with this: let love live and appreciate those who do. I love you Rita.
It’s time to stop and evaluate. We are now three weeks into the New Year. So how are those resolutions going?…Hello? Anyone there?
We are one month into 2011, the year that you’re going to lose those ten pounds, get that promotion, visit that distanced friend. So again, how is it going?
Commitment, motivation, determination—these are all things we know we have, but sometime have trouble keeping them focused on a predetermined goal. There are always the same hurdles that leave you saying “Oh, I’ll start in February.” I find the best way to stay on track is to have a friend there to help you along the way. Remember what I told you earlier “What gets measured, gets done.” By adding a friend into the equation to keep you constant and avoid any deterring variables, will only result in a winning combination.
So I am here to give you a little kick start, and hold you accountable for you promised to yourself. In the end, your resolutions are only to better yourself, but self-efficacy is the greatest proponent of a successful life. Not because you are better than anyone else, but because you have become a better person than you were. You never hear anyone say “Gee, I’m really upset that I’m ten pounds liter and in better health…” or “Hmm, this rekindled relationship with my best friend really sucks” or “Wow, being able to run again without cigarettes isn’t that great.”
It’s early in the game. You’re resolutions are not a lost cause, and there is still time to get started. Begin with recruiting a support system. Whether they be a friend, a coworker, family member, or even a mentor, find someone who will be the best fit to hold you accountable and motivate you through your resolutions. When you’re feeling weak and veering off course, having someone there that you know will hold you accountable and talk you through it makes the difference between you saying “I wish” to “I did.” Getting started is the hardest part. Just tear the band aid off!
Another year has passed us by…did you live it to your full potential? January 1st is a day that I look forward to with every passing year—out with the old and in with the new. It is a time that allows us to reflect on our accomplishments and road bumps, while providing the foundation for new goals of improvement. I truly believe with all my being that everyone can have a fresh start—and what better time than now.
If you have read my book, or followed me this past year, you can understand why I thrive at this time of year. This is the time to sit down and really think about what you value in your life. Is it good health? Do you want to focus more on your career path? Or would you just like to spend more time with family and friends? These are all wonderful goals, but we must remember to RUMBA when setting our resolutions.
The biggest mistake that we make is setting “umbrella goals”—or goals that are vague and can cover a whole realm of to-do lists to accomplish them. Be realistic and specific when outlining your resolutions. Rather than vowing to “do better at work” or “exercise more,” or “to communicate more with friends,” focus on numbers. Remember what gets measured gets done. By specifying that you will attain a 10% increase in your numbers this month; or work out three days a week for at least 30 minutes; or you will call one friend a week to catch up—these little pledges will create attainable milestones for a successful year.
As for me, I have my resolutions; and will be sure to cherish each moment that I have fulfilling them…whether its eating breakfast with my family or swinging from the tree tops of Costa Rica. remember that it’s ok to start small, but start now.
“What were you doing in September of 1992?” Trey Wingo, of ESPN, asks as he, and many others, commemorate the 297 game starting streak of Brett Favre. For all of the football fans—or even sports fans in general—Brett Favre is a name that immediately deems respect upon its mention.
As I watched Monday night’s game, Vikings vs. the Giants, everyone was on edge as they saw Brett Favre get tackled from behind, injuring him on to the reserve list for the first time in nearly 20 years. However, Favre’s reaction has he was interviewed about his ending jaw-dropping streak was surprisingly light hearted and accepting. He recognized that it was just time; and that he had gone through a career which he began with a full head of hair, and ended it without—not by choice. He held his head high and accepted that he had had the privilege of playing a game that he loved for much longer than most in his field (no pun intended).
What really caught my attention was not Favre’s humility, but the reactions and comments by not only his companions, but his competitors. As ESPN commentators commemorated Favre’s career, they respectfully spoke of his commitment, perseverance, and passion for the game. Each and every one of them looked to him as a role model, and a person to be admired. Tom Jackson reiterated the passion that Brett Favre had for the game; and that when you spoke to him, his attitude and energy radiated onto his teammates and into the crowd. Trent Gilford, recalls the hair on his arms standing on end as he and his teammates listened to the Green Bay crowd cheer as they announced Brett Favre’s name.
No matter what team you cheer for, or what sport you watch, I believe Brett Favre to be the leader of his sports generation. His entire demeanor is the kind that I revel about throughout my career. The affect that Brett has had on the game of football is one that will be remembered. Seen as an Iron Man, he set an example of mental strength that can only be attained by commitment and goal setting. He played not for himself but for his team, and was revered as a true leader among the NFL. His legacy as a football great will live on not because of his record, but because of the journey he took to get there.
“What were you doing September of 1992?” Merrill Hodge responds “playing against Brett Favre at that first game…and at the end of the day he demands respect.”
What another wonderful day participating as a head judge for the GSEA Awards. The competition was fierce, and great to see such young minds so energetic and full of great of ideas and drive to see that those ideas lead to great businesses. Below is an interview discussing the competition and some advice regarding anyone looking to do well in both business and life.
Last Friday, I was recognized in the Phoenix Business Journal for my success in the community, and in life. They do a wonderful job of highlighting the importance of aligning your everyday decisions with your values, and applying it to your everyday business philosophy.
As I’ve always said, your earning years are based on the foundation of you learning years, thus allowing you to participate in the returning years. Once you’ve lived a life of achievement, its important to share your knowledge with those who have the potential of creating their own success. By withholding the stories that led to your triumph in business, you are doing a disservice to the world around you.
When you get to a certain point in your life—a point in which you have found success, run into obstacles, experienced loss, found faith, and get to share it all with the ones you love…you can’t help but sit down and reflect on how you got there. I truly believe that everyone has a potential success story in their future. In business, it all comes back to basics—those basic life lessons that are instilled to act as the foundation to our life’s achievements. For me, as I sit here recapturing my life’s trials and tribulations, it was in the army that I truly gained my most valuable character traits. These rudimentary qualities helped mold me into the business man I am today.
I was sixteen years old when I made the decision to join a program offered in the Canadian Army called The Apprentice Training Program. It was a two year course where they taught me the skills to fulfill the requirements to be a resourceful young adult and soldier. These lessons were ones that I carried with me, not only throughout my 7 years serving in the army, but for the rest of my life.
After leaving the army, my second job was learning to be a sales person. My boss taught us you had to make 18 calls and put on three presentations to get a sale. I never questioned this lesson and made my 18 calls daily. Within a few months I became quite good at booking appointments while all but two of the people in my training class had washed out. Later I realized that it was the experience of making all those calls that made me better at it and after a few months I became the top salesman in the national company. I credited my success totally with the discipline learned in the army to follow orders. I was told 18-3-1 and never questioned it while many of the other trainees thought it was a waste of time to make all those calls.
It’s the simple lessons, like discipline, that turn a good soldier into a great business man. When finished completing my apprenticeship, they had each of us write down the lessons that we learned in the program. These are what I recollect—and have proven invaluable to the success I’ve achieved.
Lessons Learned at ages 16 – 18 in the Soldier Apprentice RCASC, Camp Borden 1954
1. To do what I was told without totally understanding why – just do it!
2. How to fight for my rights – the drill hall was a very honest place
3. How to share! $39.00 was not much and would not buy much gas, but combined with about six other apprentices it could buy a lot of gas.
4. How to feel good about myself. I learned to dance properly, clean myself and dress up in my Blues and Greys
5. How to listen. You did not get told much. When you held a grenade and were told to take the pin out and then throw you needed to listen.
6. How to have gratitude, be grateful for all I had so many people had nothing I always felt like a very lucky man now and back then.
7. How to have respect for everyone – they were all higher than me and deserved my respect.
8. How to laugh – I really saw humor in most things and just recall laughing a lot with the rest of the guys
9. How to have confidence in myself – many times we were ordered to do things that we never ever thought we could do, maybe on the obstacle course, or driving those huge truck, or throwing a hand grenade but after we did them and did them pretty well man alive the feeling of accomplishment and confidence was over powering. I believe it gave me the confidence to accomplish a lot of what I did later in life
10. Lastly how to have pride in yourself for who you are and what you stand for. I was a member of the Canadian Army. I was somebody. I had to serve with pride because of what was expected of me. I needed to step up and be a soldier. It still feels good!
These ten basic lessons learned are what created the fundamental foundation to my life of success—in both business and in life.